What is custody?
Custody is the physical care and supervision of a child (under 19 years of age). Custody or “legal custody” also refers to the parental right to make major decisions concerning the child, including the child’s education, health care and religious training.1
1 C.G.S.A. § 46b-115a.
What is physical custody?
Physical custody is the term used to describe the person that lives with the child on a day-to-day basis.1
1 C.G.S.A. § 46b-115a.
What is joint custody?
Joint custody means an order awarding legal custody of the minor child to both parents, providing for joint decision-making by the parents and providing that physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way as to make sure the child of gets continued contact with both parents. The court may award joint legal custody without awarding joint physical custody where the parents have agreed to merely joint legal custody. A judge can assume that joint custody is in the best interest of a minor child if the parents agree.1
1 C.G.S.A. § 46b-56a.
What is mediation?
The court may order you to take part in mediation. The session will be conducted informally as a conference or series of conferences, or by telephone. It will consist of a neutral third party, working with the parties involved to reach a mutually agreed upon solution. Each party has one challenge if they disagree with the mediator chosen. If you have been abused, make sure to tell the judge. It may affect his/her decision about whether or not to send you to mediation. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may want to consider asking a judge to waive mediation.
If the mediator determines that mediation efforts are unsuccessful, s/he will end mediation and notify the judge that the mediation efforts have failed. The custody proceeding will then continue.1
1 C.G.S.A. § 46b-59a
Should I start a court case to ask for supervised visitation?
If you are not comfortable with the abuser being alone with your child, you might be thinking about asking the judge to order that visits with your child be supervised. If you are already in court because the abuser filed for visitation or custody, you may not have much to lose by asking that the visits be supervised if you can present a valid reason for your request (although this may depend on your situation).
However, if there is no current court case, please get legal advice BEFORE you start a court case to ask for supervised visits. We strongly recommend that you talk to an attorney who specializes in custody matters to find out what you would have to prove to get the visits supervised and how long supervised visits would last, based on the facts of your case.
In the majority of cases, supervised visits are only a temporary measure. Although the exact visitation order will vary by state, county, or judge, the judge might order a professional to observe the other parent on a certain amount of visits or the visits might be supervised by a relative for a certain amount of time – and if there are no obvious problems, the visits may likely become unsupervised. Oftentimes, at the end of a case, the other parent ends up with more frequent and/ or longer visits than s/he had before you went into court or even some form of custody.
In some cases, to protect your child from immediate danger by the abuser, starting a case to ask for custody and supervised visits is appropriate. To find out what may be best in your situation, please go to CT Finding a Lawyer to seek out legal advice.